By: Stephanie Yuen
When my Korean friend told me about a small Korean restaurant with a name which meant ‘Symphony of Korean drums’ out in Surrey, and that it’s worth the drive, I decided to pay a visit. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, my husband and I went for the drive along Fraser Highway; destination Willowbrook Mall area, where Buk Jang Do Ga Korean Cuisine locates.
I had no idea how big the Korean community was in this neighbourhood until we got there. Besides the iconic Hi-Mart, other Korean signs are visible everywhere. We found Buk Jan Do Ga nests away a few doors down Hi-Mart. The visage of the restaurant does not reflect half of the rustic beauty inside. I later found out it was the restaurant owner Mr. Bob Chung’s very own design and making. Even the wooden frame of carving of the band of drummers on top of the kitchen counter was hand-crafted by him. While printed menus are available, there are poem-like posters of menus on the wall.
Wood tables and benches, built by Bob, put diners right into a Korean farmer’s dwelling. The wall papers resemble ancient style rice paper with Korean calligraphy, embellished tastefully with pieces of wooden peasantry items. This is one very clean, simply homey-feel dining room that stands out from those in other Korean restaurants I’ve dined at. I was definitely impressed once I stepped inside of it.
While printed menus are available, there are poetry-like posters of menus on the wall; where some non-familiar names of dishes are shown. “It’s my dream to introduce to the folks here what authentic Korean cuisine is really like.” The very fervid but humble Bob explained, “Here, every dish has its own distinct flavour. We use seasonal produce, prepare our own marinates and spices. Everything is done in small batches to make sure the food we serve is as authentic and as fresh as possible.”
The first menu item that caught my eyes was the Mung Bean Pancake. Served with a Ponzu-style light vinaigrette sauce loaded with shredded raw onion and chopped scallion, the pancake was a flattened mashed mung bean patty mixed with Kimchi cabbage and tiny amount of ground pork, then pan-fried till golden. We enjoyed the between mushy mashed potatoes and grainy wheat texture and loved every bit of it with the onion and scallion.
Who could say no to beef ribs, especially sweet gingery flavour, manually tenderized short ribs served on an individual hot-grill pan? The bowl of Korean rice was naturally the best companion for the ribs. The other beef dish, also served on an hot grill was the stir-fried slices with mung bean noodles and julienne green onions. The marinade for this dish was on the sweeter side and was very enticing. Bob put a bowl of generously loaded soup using the same meat and ingredients just to show us the other way Koreans enjoyed the same style of beef. He also delivered a small plate of Cat fish logs sauteed in Kimchi and bean sprouts for us to sample. “This is simple and cheerful country-style cooking - very hot, very appetizing, and very good with Korean rice.” Bob assured.
We were so full by then so the other dishes, such as the Potatoe Broth with Rice for 2 (dinner set) and the Assorted vegetable and sausage pot stew I had my eyes on would have to wait till my return.
Buk Jang Do Ga Korean Cuisine
19539 Fraser Hwy (at Route 10), Surrey
Opening hours: 12 to 12